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Penelope (Penny) Phillips focuses exclusively on counseling and representing employers in all areas of employment law, including FMLA, wage and hour, employment discrimination claims (including gender, age, religion, disability, national origin, and race), defamation, whistleblower, breach of contract and wrongful discharge. She also investigates complaints of employee misconduct (including harassment and offensive behavior). Penny has worked with and practiced before the state and federal courts, various state and federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and state and local fair employment practices agencies.

Penny strongly believes in providing her clients with strategies and solutions (not just answers) based on quality human resources practices. She has a particular emphasis on wage and hour/FLSA matters. While an in-house attorney at SUPERVALU, she defended wage and hour cases throughout the country. She frequently conducts FLSA audits for companies, and is the author of the 2007 Wage & Hour Answer Book, A Guide for Human Resource Professionals, published by Aspen Publishers (a leading information provider for attorneys, business professionals and law students).

Penny is also a frequent teacher and trainer on employment issues. She provides ongoing training to employers, managers, human resource personnel and other lawyers on matters such as the FMLA, ADA, wage and hour laws, hiring and firing, sexual and unlawful harassment, discrimination, conducting investigations, alcohol and drug testing, and reductions-in-force. She has spoken to companies and organizations throughout Minnesota, the Midwest, and the United States.

Practice Areas

  • Employment Law
    • Counseling and Representation of Employers
    • Employment Litigation
    • Employment-Related Administrative Law
    • FMLA Matters
    • Wage and Hour/FLSA Disputes
    • FLSA Audits
    • Defamation
    • Whistleblower
    • Breach of Contract
    • Wrongful Discharge
    • Employee Misconduct Complaints

Representative Work

  • Tim Sporre v. Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, 27-CV-11-010863 (4 thJudicial District 2012). Obtained dismissal of employee’s whistleblower and sex discrimination claims.
  • Janet Mcleod v. Fairview Health Services, U.S. District Court, CV-10-898 (D. Minn. 2011). Obtained summary judgment on FMLA, disability discrimination and retaliation claims.
  • Roselene Devi v. Wholesale Products Supply, LLC, 27-CV-11-18174 (4 thJudicial District 2011). Rule 12 motion granted on disability discrimination claim based on exclusivity of workers’ compensation statute.
  • Susan Turnquist v. Fairview Health Services d/b/a Columbia Park Medical Group and Fairview Fridley Clinic, 27-CV-09-28632 (4thJudicial District 2010). Obtained dismissal of employee’s whistleblower and harassment claims.
  • Candace Hume v. Fairview Health Services, 27-CV-10-694 (4thJudicial District 2010). Obtained summary judgment on Age and Disability discrimination claims.

Related Experience

  • Labor & Employment Counsel, SUPERVALU INC., 2006-2008
  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Rosalie E. Wahl, Associate Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court, 1989-1990
  • Staff Writer, William Mitchell Law Review, 1987-1988, Editor, 1988-1989



Professional Certifications, Awards and Designations

  • Inducted as a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, 2016
  • Named one of the Top 100 Minnesota Super Lawyers® 2013-2016 and one of the Top 50 Women Minnesota Super Lawyers 2013-2016®
  • Named to Top 100 Minnesota Lawyers by Minnesota Law & Politics, 2012, 2015
  • Appointed as a Leader in her Field by the Chambers USA Guide, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013
  • Named in “ Super Lawyer®” by Minnesota Law & Politics,2004 – 2012, 2014-2016
  • Rated “AV Preeminent” (highest rating) by Martindale Hubbell Legal Directory
  • Certified Specialist, Minnesota State Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law, 2010
  • Named Top 40 Employment Lawyers by Minnesota Law & Politics,2007 – 2009
  • Named to Top 100 Woman Lawyers by Minnesota Law & Politics,2006 – 2012
  • Included in “Best Lawyers In America”© for 2006-2007
  • Included in Who’s Who In Legal: USA Management Labour & Employment, 2006
  • Named “Rising Star of Minnesota Law” by Minnesota Law & Politics,1998

Bar Admissions

  • Wisconsin State Bar, 2013
  • North Dakota State Bar, 2004
  • United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, 1999
  • United States District Court, District of North Dakota, 1997
  • United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, 1991
  • United States District Court, District of Minnesota, 1990
  • Minnesota State Bar, 1989

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Hennepin County Bar Association
  • Legal Services Advisory Council
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Wolters Kluwer Law and Business Labor and Employment Law Advisory Board
  • Labor & Employment Certification Board, Chair 2010-present
  • Minnesota State Bar Association, Labor & Employment Certification Committee and Board, Chair, 2006-present
  • Labor & Employment Law Section, Governing Council, 1999-2006, Chair, 2005-2006

Education

  • J.D., William Mitchell College of Law, magna cum laude, 1989
  • B.A., St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1985

Articles

  • The ADA Handbook and ADA Interplay with Company Policies and other Laws, Penelope J. Phillips, Randi J. Winter, Minnesota CLE, 2013
  • The FMLA Handbook, Editor, and Interplay with Other Laws and with Company Policies, author with Randi J Winter, Minnesota CLE, 2012
  • Basic Minimum Wage and Overtime Requirements and the Exemptions from those Requirements, Dennis J. Merley and Penelope J. Phillips, Minnesota CLE, 2011
  • Overview of Reasonable Accommodation and the Shifting Emphasis from Who is Disabled to Who Can Work, Penelope J. Phillips and Grant Collins, Hamline Law Review, 2011
  • Discipline and Discharge, Editor, and A Practical Guide to Preparing Disciplinary Documentation, author with Grant G. Collins, Minnesota CLE, 2010
  • Wage and Hour Answer Book, Penelope J. Phillips, Wolters Kluwer, 2007

Presentations

  • “7 Important Wage and Hour Issues Every Business Attorney Should Understand,” 2013 Minnesota Closely Held Business Conference
    “Appearance Discrimination: A New Frontier of Employment Litigation?” MSBA, 2012
  • “Social Media and Hiring,” Minnesota Human Rights Symposium, 2012
  • “A Practical Guide to Drafting Employee Disciplinary Memos,” Minnesota CUPA, 2012
  • “FMLA – Interplay with Other Laws and Company Policy,” Midwest Employment Law Institute, 2012
  • “Your Tweeting Workforce,” Minnesota Public Employees Labor Relations, 2012
  • “7 Important Wage and Hour Issues Every Business Attorney Should Understand,” Minnesota Closely Held Business Conference, 2012
  • “An In-Depth Analysis of the ADA Amendments Act: What Has Changed and What Has Not?” Minnesota CLE, 2008
  • Midwest Employment Law Institute, 2009
  • “Tick Tock – Is This Work on the Clock? Advising Clients About Today’s FLSA ‘Off the Clock’ Hot Spots”
  • “The Employee Who Is Absent (A Lot!) – How to Effectively Manage FMLA Intermittent Leave”
  • “2008 FMLA Amendments”
  • “A Practical Guide to Drafting Employee Disciplinary Memos”
  • “Appearance and Grooming at Work”
  • “Background and Reference Checks”
  • “Discipline, Documentation, and Discharge”
  • “Discrimination in the Workplace”
  • “Discrimination Issues: Application, Interview, Hiring”
  • “Employment and Technology: Computers, Internet, and Privacy”
  • “English Proficiency at Work”
  • “FMLA in a Nutshell”
  • “Getting the Wage and Hour Issues Right — Auditing FLSA Practices”
  • “Handling the Problem Employee”
  • “Hiring in the Current Legal Environment”
  • “How to Conduct an Investigation”
  • “How to Discipline and Discharge Without Litigation”
  • “Illegal Harassment: How to Recognize It and How to Respond to It”
  • “Introduction to the ADA and the ADAA”
  • “Navigating the Leave Laws”
  • “Reduction-in-Force and Severance Agreements”
  • “The New FLSA Regulations”
  • “The Workplace and Chemical Abuse”

Teaching

  • William Mitchell College of Law, Adjunct Professor, Employment Law Survey, 2012-present
  • Legal Writing, William Mitchell College of Law, 1991-1994, Compass Program, 2008
  • Employers Education Service, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 1991-2006

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